H. R. 2704
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 17, 2013
Mr. Michaud (for himself and Mr. Miller of Florida) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress a Future-Years Veterans Program and a quadrennial veterans review, to establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a Chief Strategy Officer, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Department of Veterans Affairs Budget
Planning Reform Act of 2013
Establishment of strategic plans to improve programs and benefits for veterans
Future-Years Veterans Program
Chapter 1 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
Future-Years Veterans Program
Submission to Congress
The Secretary shall submit to Congress each year, at or about the time that the President’s budget is submitted to Congress pursuant to section 1105(a) of title 31, a Future-Years Veterans Program reflecting the estimated expenditures and proposed appropriations included in that budget. Any such Future-Years Veterans Program shall cover the fiscal year with respect to which the budget is submitted and at least the four succeeding fiscal years.
The Secretary shall ensure that amounts described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2) for any fiscal year are consistent with amounts described in subparagraph (B) of such paragraph for that fiscal year.
Amounts referred to in paragraph (1) are the following:
The amounts specified in program and budget information submitted to Congress by the Secretary in support of expenditure estimates and proposed appropriations in the budget submitted to Congress by the President under section 1105(a) of title 31 for any fiscal year, as shown in the Future-Years Veterans Program submitted pursuant to subsection (a).
The total amounts of estimated expenditures and proposed appropriations necessary to support the programs, projects, and activities of the Department of Veterans Affairs included pursuant to paragraph (5) of section 1105(a) of title 31 in the budget submitted to Congress under that section for any fiscal year.
The Future-Years Veterans Program under subsection (a) shall set forth the five-year plan of the Department to address the commitment of the United States to veterans and the resources necessary to meet that commitment and shall be developed and updated, as appropriate, annually by the Secretary. Each Future-Years Veterans Program shall include an explanation of—
the information that was used to develop program planning guidance for the Future-Years Veterans Program; and
how the resource allocations included in the Future-Years Veterans Program correlate to such five-year strategy.
The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 118 the following new item:
119. Future-Years Veterans Program.
Section 119 of title 38, United States Code, as added by paragraph (1), shall apply with respect to the preparation and submission of the fiscal year 2018 budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Quadrennial Veterans Review
Such chapter is further amended by adding after section 119, as added by subsection (a)(1), the following new section:
Quadrennial veterans review
Not later than fiscal year 2017, and every fourth year thereafter, the Secretary shall conduct a review of the strategy for meeting the commitment of the United States to veterans and the resources necessary to meet that commitment (in this section referred to as a quadrennial veterans review).
Each quadrennial veterans review shall include a comprehensive examination of the policies and strategies of the United States with respect to veterans, including recommendations regarding the long-term strategy and priorities for programs, services, benefits, and outcomes regarding veterans and guidance on the programs, assets, capabilities, budget, policies, and authorities of the Department.
The Secretary shall conduct each quadrennial veterans review in consultation with key officials of the Department, the heads of other Federal agencies, and other relevant governmental and nongovernmental entities, including State, local, and tribal government officials, members of Congress, veterans service organizations, private sector representatives, academics, and other policy experts.
The Secretary shall ensure that each quadrennial veterans review is coordinated with the Future-Years Veterans Program required under section 119 of this title.
Contents of review
In each quadrennial veterans review, the Secretary shall—
delineate a veterans strategy consistent with the commitment of the United States to veterans and refine a strategy for the types of, and provision of, programs, services, benefits, and outcomes consistent with current authorities and requirements;
outline and prioritize the full range of programs and capabilities regarding veterans provided by the Federal Government;
identify the budget plan required to provide sufficient resources to successfully execute the full range of such programs and capabilities;
include an assessment of the organizational alignment of the Department with respect to the strategy referred to in paragraph (1) and the programs and capabilities referred to in paragraph (2);
review and assess the effectiveness of the mechanisms of the Department for executing the process of turning the requirements identified in the quadrennial veterans review into a plan to meet such requirements, including an expenditure plan for the Department; and
identify emerging trends, problems, opportunities, and issues that could affect veterans or the Department during the ten-year period following the period covered by the review.
Submission to Congress
The Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and the House of Representatives a report regarding each quadrennial veterans review. The Secretary shall submit the report in the year following the year in which the review is conducted, but not later than the date on which the President submits the budget for the next fiscal year to Congress under section 1105 of title 31, United States Code.
Each report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include—
the results of the quadrennial veterans review;
a description of the challenges to, and opportunities for, the assumed or defined veterans-related interests of the Nation that were examined for the purposes of that review;
the strategy for meeting the Nation’s commitment to veterans, including a prioritized list of the missions of the Department;
a description of the interagency cooperation, preparedness of Federal assets, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the programs and policies of the Nation associated with the strategy referred to in subsection (b)(1) that are required to execute successfully the full range of programs and capabilities identified in such strategy and the programs and capabilities outlined under subsection (b)(2);
an assessment of the organizational alignment of the Department with the strategy referred to in subsection (b)(1) and the programs and capabilities outlined under subsection (b)(2), including the Department's organizational structure, management systems, budget and accounting systems, human resources systems, procurement systems, and physical and technical infrastructure;
a discussion of the status of cooperation among Federal agencies in the effort to promote national support for veterans;
a discussion of the status of cooperation between the Federal Government and State, local, and tribal governments in supporting veterans and providing programs, services, benefits, and outcomes to assist veterans;
an explanation of any underlying assumptions used in conducting the review; and
any other matter the Secretary considers appropriate.
The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 119, as added by subsection (a)(2), the following new item:
120. Quadrennial Veterans Review.
Such chapter is further amended by adding after section 120, as added by subsection (b)(1), the following new section:
The Secretary shall provide annually to the appropriate officials of the Department written policy guidance for the preparation and review of the planning and program recommendations and budget proposals of the elements of the Department of such officials. Such guidance shall include guidance on the objectives of the Department in accordance with Future-Years Veterans Program under section 119 of this title and the quadrennial veterans review under section 120 and the resource levels projected to be available for the period of time for which such recommendations and proposals are to be effective.
The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 120, as added by subsection (b)(2), the following new item:
121. Quadrennial veterans review.
Chief strategy officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Chapter 3 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
Chief Strategy Officer
The Secretary shall designate the Assistant Secretary whose functions include planning, studies, and evaluations as the Chief Strategy Officer of the Department. The Chief Strategy Officer shall advise the Secretary on long-range strategy and implications.
The Chief Strategy Officer is the principal advisor to the Secretary and other senior officials of the Department, and shall provide independent analysis and advice to the Secretary and such officials. The Chief Strategy Officer shall carry out the following responsibilities:
Conducting cost estimation and cost analysis for the programs of the Department.
Establishing policies for, and overseeing the integration of, the planning, programming, budgeting and execution process for the Department.
Providing analysis and advice on matters relating to the planning and programming phase of the planning, programming, budgeting and execution process, and the preparation of materials and guidance for such process, as directed by the Secretary, working in coordination with the Assistant Secretary for Management.
Developing and executing the Future-Years Veterans Program of the Department, as specified under section 119 of this title.
Developing resource discussions relating to requirements under consideration in the quadrennial veterans review under section 120 of this title.
Formulating study guidance for analysis of alternatives for programs and initiatives, including any necessary acquisitions, development, or procurement commensurate with such alternatives, and performance of such analysis as directed by the Secretary.
Reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating programs for executing approved strategies and policies, ensuring that information on programs and expected outcomes is presented accurately and completely.
Ensuring that the costs of programs and alternatives are presented accurately and completely by assisting in establishing standards, policies, and procedures for the conduct of cost estimation and cost analysis throughout the Department, including guidance relating to the proper selection of confidence levels in cost estimates generally and for specific programs of the Department.
Conducting studies at the request of the Secretary regarding costs, policy assumptions, and strategic implications of current policies and possible alternatives.
Communicating directly to the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs about matters for which the Chief Strategy Officer is responsible without obtaining the approval or concurrence of any other official within the Department.
The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 322 the following new item:
323. Chief Strategy Officer.
Study on the functions and organizational structure of the Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Study
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct a study of the functions and organizational structure of the Office of the Secretary and of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Contents of Study
In conducting the study under subsection (a), the Secretary shall consider whether the allocation of functions and the organizational structure of the Department, as of the date of the enactment of this Act, constitute the most effective, efficient, and economical allocation and structure to assist the Secretary in carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the Secretary. The Secretary shall also consider—
whether the organization of the Office and the Department is—
optimally structured to assist the Secretary in the effective exercise of control over the Department, including—
policy development and strategic planning;
programming, planning, and budget development and policy, program, and budget execution; and
contingency planning; and
the most effective and efficient organization for the initiation, development, and articulation of veterans’ policy and the provision of benefits and services;
means of improving and strengthening the oversight and accountability within the Office and Department;
factors inhibiting efficient and effective execution of the functions of the Office and the Department, including factors relating to—
any duplication of functions (both within and between the Office and Department);
the availability to the Secretary of sufficient and detailed information regarding the operation of the Department to enable effective planning, policy execution, and oversight; and
the sufficiency of resources, including personnel, to carry out current and projected requirements in a more effective and efficient manner; and
possible alternative allocations and realignments of authorities and functions within the Office and Department to improve the Department’s overall operation and better provide benefits and services.
Independent Contractor Study
The Secretary shall enter into a contract with an appropriate entity under which the entity shall carry out an independent study of the same matters required to be considered by the Secretary under subsection (b). The Secretary shall ensure that the entity has full access to such information as the contractor requires in order to conduct the study and that the contractor otherwise receives full cooperation from all officials and entities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Report to Congress
Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report on the Secretary’s study under subsection (a). The report shall include—
the findings and conclusions of the Secretary with respect to each of the matters set forth in subsection (b);
any recommendations of the Secretary for organizational changes in the Office of the Secretary and the overall Department and a description of the means for implementing each recommendation; and
a copy of the report of the independent contractor under subsection (c), together with such comments on such report as the Secretary considers appropriate.